On Tuesday, February 16, 2021, the Honorable Bennie G. Thompson, Member of the United States House of Representatives, filed a lawsuit, in his personal capacity, against Donald J. Trump and Rudy Giuliani, in their personal capacities, alleging a violation of the Ku Klux Klan Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1985(1). The lawsuit stems from Trump and Giuliani’s roles in the January 6, 2021 Capitol riot. The complaint also names as defendants Proud Boys International, L.L.C. and Oath Keepers, two right-wing extremist groups associated with the riot.
The complaint states that the defendants “intended to prevent, and ultimately delayed, members of Congress from discharging their duty commanded by the United States Constitution to approve the results of the Electoral College in order to elect the next President and Vice President of the United States.” The complaint was brought against the defendants “for conspiring to prevent [plaintiff] and other Members of Congress from discharging these official duties” in violation of the Ku Klux Klan Act. The law in question states that defendants may not “conspire to prevent, by force, intimidation, or threat, any person. . . holding any office, trust or place of confidence under the United States. . . from discharging any duties thereof; or to induce by like means any officer of the United States to leave any. . . place where his duties as an officer are required to be performed, or. . . to molest, interrupt, hinder, or impede him in the discharge of his official duties.”
According to the complaint, former President Trump is liable in his personal capacity since he “acted beyond the outer perimeter of his official duties.” In support of this claim, the complaint states that both Trump and Giuliani “engaged in a concerted campaign to misinform their supporters and the public, encouraging and promoting intimidation and violence in furtherance of their common plan to promote the re-election of Defendant Trump. . . and to disrupt the legally required process before Congress to supervise the counting of the Electoral College ballots and certify the results of that count.” The complaint names all defendants as co-conspirators for the purpose of seeking to prevent Congress from certifying election results.
Congressman Thompson’s complaint seeks relief in the form of “[a] declaratory judgment that the actions described [in the complaint] constitute a violation of [the Ku Klux Klan Act,]. . . [i]njunctive relief enjoining Defendants from engaging in future violations of [the Ku Klux Klan Act],” compensatory damages, punitive damages, an award of attorney’s fees and costs, and any other relief deemed appropriate by the court. Thompson is represented in the lawsuit by the NAACP and Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll. The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.
Trump and Giuliani face first civil suit stemming from Capitol riots; violation of KKK Act is alleged, ABA Journal (February 16, 2021)
Thompson v. Trump et al (Case No. 1:2021cv00400)
Complaint in Thompson v. Trump et al
Ku Klux Klan Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1985(1)
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